Hello, and welcome back to Off The Menu, where we explore the craziest stories about food from my email inbox. This week, we’re bringing you more tales of amazing happenings in fast food restaurants. As always, these are real stories from real readers.
I was standing in line at a Starbucks across the street from West Edmonton Mall. It was swamped, and the swampiness was made worse by the fact that nearly everyone was insisting on extremely complicated drinks with unique specifications. So I was relieved when one of the people in line in front of me — an older lady who was with a man who could have been her son or husband, it was hard to tell — just ordered a simple vanilla latte. Though the baristas were working mightily and heroically to execute the mountain of orders in front of them, it was clear vanilla latte lady was annoyed by the fact that her drink didn’t appear immediately, even though there were at least seven orders ahead of hers. Eventually it came, though, and was placed directly in front of her.
Rather than take it, she stared at it with a confused expression, looking around at the rest of us waiting to see if we could appreciate what was wrong with what had just happened. We said nothing and waited for our orders. As more orders went out, the woman stood there and stared down at her vanilla latte. Five minutes passed.
Finally, she spoke up: “Is someone going to put a lid on this?” she asked. “Oh,” said the teenage girl standing beside her, “they’re right there,” as she pointed to the lids directly in front of the woman. The woman looked at the girl like she was everything that was wrong with the world before angrily grabbing the wrong sized lid and futilely attempting to put it on her cup. That having failed, she then grabbed another lid from the EXACT SAME PILE and was similarly flummoxed.
It was at this point that she literally snorted out, “I didn’t pay FIVE DOLLARS for a coffee to have to put on my own lid!” before she self-righteously grabbed the latte and stormed out with her son/husband, who seemed like he was used to this sort of thing.
I used to work at a chain franchise pita sandwich shop in a particularly trust-fund-brat-filled part of Orange County.
The way the system worked was that you picked out the paid filling for your sandwich (some sort of meat, egg, hummus, babaganoush, no filling, etc.) as well as your pita type (white or wheat). If you picked a type of meat that would be served up hot, we’d throw it on the grill along with a sauce, if you wanted it that way, and veggies if you asked. Then we’d place the heated item into the pita, fill it with any other toppings and sauces you wanted, and roll it up. Like a bougie Subway, basically. This is important because you pay based on the initial filling you choose, not the sauces or veggies or other toppings.
Once, while covering a coworker’s earlier-than-my-usual shift, a customer came in and ordered a “chicken caesar pita, no bacon.” I said, “Oh, so a chicken breast pita” since a chicken caesar without bacon was just a chicken breast pita, so why pay the extra for a chicken caesar?
She actually got upset and seemed like she was going to cry. She said that she came in to the place every day for lunch and that she always got a Chicken Caesar without bacon without a problem from the other employees. She wouldn’t hear me when I tried to explain to her that she was paying a bacon premium for no reason and could get the caesar dressing on her chicken breast pita.
I was in Michigan visiting friends and we decided we wanted pizza for dinner. I figured we would do take out, but my friend mentioned a place I had never heard of: Papa Murphy’s. Papa Murphy’s is, as I quickly learned, a “take and bake” chain, meaning that they prepare food and sandwiches and whatnot but that they don’t actually cook anything. You buy the stuff, take it home and cook it. Pretty simple concept, plus they’re better quality items instead of like a $5 Hot and Ready.
So we go to this Papa Murphy’s place (for the record, the sign and logos all over the store all say “PAPA MURPHY’S TAKE AND BAKE”), my friend places our order, and the guy says it’ll be ready in like 10 minutes, so we take a seat on a bench and chill.
Then she comes in.
First off, she struts through the door like she owns the place. I’m talking a grab-the-door-handle, rip-it-open, and march-right-up-to-the-counter-type entrance. The guy taking orders asks her if he can help her and she says “Yeah, let me get a couple slices and a drink.” The guy says “We don’t have individual slices, ma’am.” This confuses her and she says “What do you mean, you don’t have slices? This is a pizza place, right?” He replies “Yes, ma’am, but we are a take and bake place.” She snaps at him “What the hell does that mean?!” He explains “You just buy the assembled ingredients from us then take them home and cook them.”
She is now confused again. “What do you mean, I have to cook it? This is a restaurant, you cook the food and the customer pays for it.” He, somehow keeping his cool, says “I know, but we are not that type of place. We don’t have any ovens or deep fryers or anything to cook food with.” She responds with “I don’t know how you expect to stay in business if you don’t even cook food for customers when they order.” Then turns and leaves as quickly as she entered. Our pizza gets done and we grab it and go out to my car. Then we decide we’ll take the pizza home and save it for later that night and that we’ll get something to eat immediately because we were hungry right then, so we throw the pizza in my car and walk next door (it was in a strip mall) to Jimmy Johns.
Who do we see when we walk in the door? Idiot Woman. I nudge my friend and say “How much do you want to bet she’ll be a pain in the ass in here too?” No sooner have I finished that sentence when I hear her snap at an employee (she wasn’t even in line, she was standing clear back by a table and just staring into the counter/kitchen area) “WHAT KIND OF SANDWICHES DO YOU SELL? CAN I MAKE MY OWN LIKE AT SUBWAY?” My friend turns and says “Oh for fucks sake…” as I start dying laughing. We bolt out of the place and decide to go through the drive-thru, because we agree that if we stay inside and watch more of this moron, we would lose our shit.
I really hope she didn’t wander into any other restaurant that day and give anyone else any unnecessary grief…
I worked at a local Burger King while I was in high school. One time, I walked into work the day after my day off and the GM looked at me and says “Boy, do I have a CRAZY story for you.”
She started telling me about how they were a little busy yesterday and they had an older couple take 20 minutes to put an order in at the drive thru order box. TWENTY MINUTES… There was a giant line behind them wrapped around the building. They finally got their food, asked for some sauce that cost money, and my GM told them it was 10¢ a sauce — of course they threw a fit. The person behind them was pissed off and yelled “I’ll pay for your god damn sauce. I just want my food,” so they left.
They came back about 20 minutes later and were upset their food was cold. My GM, being the amazingly kind person she was, apologized and said she’d remake it herself and make sure it’s extra hot. She did just that. He left, taking his extra piping hot fish sandwiches and fries to the car.
My GM thought everything was fine and fixed, until the man came BACK AGAIN 30 minutes later and said his food was cold. She said “Sir, I have remade your food, I’m not offering you a refund. I’ll reheat your food but there is nothing else I can do for you. If I can’t please you, please just take your business elsewhere.” He apologized and said, “That’s okay. Can I just get a free milkshake?” To which my GM replied “No, sir. I can’t do that.” He got upset and told her that his wife was in the car throwing up and needed something to settle her stomach, and that he needed that milkshake. WAT. She told him no again.
He went outside and talked with his wife for a minute. She got out the car and came inside, puke bag in hand.
She then started screaming about how she was going to sue our asses for such poor service and blah blah blah “fuck this” “fuck that” “I’ll sue your asses” blah blah blah, throwing up every now and then. Then the lady turned around, bent over, and pointed at her rear end, yelling “DO YOU SEE WHAT YOU MADE ME DO. YOU MADE ME ANGRY AND I PISSED MY PANTS! I PISSED MY PANTS!” Then she continued to yell and cause hell. She finally decided to leave, throwing her puke bag in the trash can on the way out.
I’m not sure if I’m glad I was off that day or upset that I missed this show. Likely a mixture of both.
I was at a Bojangles early-ish one morning during their breakfast rush. As the line of customers slowly advanced, I found myself facing the register at just the right moment, in perfect position to witness a smallish, older (early 40’s, I’m guessing) female employee approaches her much larger (we’re talkin’ probably 5’10”, 250 lb.), much younger female co-worker and whisper, “you better stay outta my way, bitch.” I’m positive I was the only other person to hear this interaction. They gave each other the stink-eye and then the older lady scooted back away while pretending to clean the counter by the register. The younger lady was technically working the register, but was visibly rattled. After a few long, awkward (at least for me) moments, she sort of staggered to the back kitchen area, pausing for a split-second to shoot another stink-eye as the two ladies briefly crossed paths again.
Several minutes passed. I have no memory of ordering or of who took my order because at that point, my whole inner monologue was basically saying, “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!?” The guy behind me, a youngish white-collar worker in a suit, has just finished placing his order and I was still waiting for my food. The older lady was still up front, cleaning and portioning out sides.
All of a sudden, the larger lady came charging out from the back wielding a large rectangular pan (the kind used for seasoning massive amounts of Cajun fries), screaming, “DON’T FUCK WITH ME, BITCH!” She brought the fry-pan down hard across the other lady’s head (BAM!), then again (BAM!), then a third sort of glancing blow (BWANNNG!) as she was finally, mercifully pulled back into the back by a mob of other employees. The older lady just quietly continued her shift.
Another brief moment passed, then the businessman who had just ordered slid up next to me and whispered, “Was it something I said?”
Do you have any food-related stories you’d like to see included in Off The Menu? Feel free to submit them to WilyUbertrout@gmail.com. New submissions are always welcome! (Seriously, you don’t need to ask if I want you to send them in, the answer is always yes). If you’d like to stay up to date with OTM news, my twitter handle is @EyePatchGuy.